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FRIDAY’S BATTLE WITH WOLVES TO BE TELEVISED STATE-WIDE

Griffins to Play Eight of Nine on the Road Starting Saturday

This Week’s Games
Fri., Jan. 21 - Chicago Wolves at GRIFFINS - 7:30 p.m. - Comcast Local/WOOD 1300 AM


Sat., Jan. 22 - GRIFFINS at Houston Aeros - 8:35 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Sun., Jan. 23 - GRIFFINS at Houston Aeros - 6:05 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM

Last Week’s Results
Fri., Jan. 14 - St. John’s Maple Leafs 3 at GRIFFINS 2 - 19-16-1-1, 40 pts. (3rd, West Division)

Sat., Jan. 15 - Milwaukee Admirals 3 at GRIFFINS 2 - 19-17-1-1, 40 pts. (3rd)


Chance for Redemption: Hockey fans across Michigan can witness the final Van Andel Arena installment of one of the AHL’s fiercest rivalries this Friday, as the Griffins’ game against the Chicago Wolves will be televised live on Comcast Local (channel 20 in Grand Rapids). The contest, which can be seen in Detroit and nine of the 10 largest cities in the state, kicks off the Griffins’ six-telecast package on Comcast. Bob Kaser and WOOD TV-8’s Larry Figurski will describe the action, as the Griffins try to put an end to several frustrating streaks. They’ve lost seven straight at home both to the Wolves and overall, as well as 11 of the 12 games (1-10-0-1) they’ve played since Dec. 17.

All Hail the ‘80s!: The Griffins will flash back to the era of Rubik’s Cube, Ronald Reagan and A Flock of Seagulls this Friday for “Return of the ‘80s.” The first 1,500 fans will receive a Griffins “Here’s Your Hockey” iron-on T-shirt decal, and local band Oregon Dreamchild will play ‘80s music on the concourse before the game. Additionally, music from the decade will be played throughout the night, which will also feature ‘80s-themed contests, prizes and video board features. As with every Friday home game, fans may purchase a “Subway Family Four Pack,” offering four tickets, four Subway Fresh Meal Deals and parking, for just $44.

Pack Your Bags: Following this Friday’s game against Chicago, the Griffins will play eight of the next nine games on the road, marking the first time in the franchise’s nine seasons that they’ll play just once at Van Andel Arena over a nine-game span. Adding to the challenge, those eight road games will be contested against teams with a combined 0.627 winning percentage. The final four road games, which follow a Jan. 29 home contest with Milwaukee, feature opponents with a 0.700 winning percentage (two at Manitoba, one each at Philadelphia and Rochester). On the bright side, the Griffins’ 11-5-0-1 road mark (0.676), which is still among the best in the AHL, far surpasses the combined home record of those eight road foes (90-59-6-13, 0.592).

Turn This Thing Around: The Griffins have lost seven straight home games in regulation, marking both the longest losing streak (previously 0-4) and longest winless streak (previously 0-5-1/0-4-2) in their nine seasons of play at Van Andel Arena. They’ve won just eight of 21 outings (8-12-1-0, 0.405) this season within friendly confines, already eclipsing the 10 regulation home losses suffered last season. They last claimed a home victory on Dec. 4 (44 days ago) and have since been outscored 23-11. Amazingly, Grand Rapids hasn’t owned a lead at home during the streak, having trailed for 271:04 and been tied for 148:56.

King Kronwall: Not even halfway through the 2004-05 campaign, Niklas Kronwall is threatening Griffins records for offensive production by a defenseman. With two assists on Friday, he became just the fourth blueliner in club history to reach 30 points (9-21—30), a plateau previously achieved by only Travis Richards (2000-01, 1998-99 and 1997-98), Aris Brimanis (1998-99) and Sean McCann (1996-97). Kronwall is on pace to break Brimanis’ defensemen standard for goals (16) while shattering both his mark for points (37) and Richards’ record for assists (30 in 2000-01).

Not Quite Enough: A determined effort by the Griffins on Friday fell short due to an outstanding performance by NHL veteran Jean-Sebastien Aubin, who made 47 saves to backstop the St. John’s Maple Leafs to a 3-2 win. The Griffins’ 49 shots were their most in a game since March 23, 2002 (3-2 W vs. WIL).

Hard(er) to Kill: During the season’s first 26 games, Grand Rapids’ opponents converted only 14 of 142 power play opportunities (9.9%). Over the last 12 contests, foes have scored at a 22.1% clip (15 for 68) with the advantage.

Battling From Behind: The Griffins have fallen behind by a minimum 2-0 count in each of their last six home games and in seven of their last eight games overall. During the last 12 games, which include 11 losses (1-10-0-1), they’ve scored the first goal just twice.

On a Roll: Over his last three starts, Drew MacIntyre has posted one shutout, a 1.68 GAA and a 0.943 save percentage (83-88) but has just a 1-2-0 record to show for it…Following a six-game scoreless drought, Bryan Helmer has assists in three straight outings…Todd Robinson has goals in three of the last four games…Nathan Robinson has tallied three points (1-2—3) in the last three games.

Hard-Luck Joey: Joey MacDonald has suffered his first eight-game winless streak (0-7-1) in four seasons as a pro and three seasons as a Griffin. Despite posting a 2.76 GAA and a 0.911 save percentage (215-236) during the stretch, his last taste of victory came back on Dec. 15. Before this stretch, he had never lost more than four consecutive decisions as a Griffin.

League Leaders: Joey MacDonald ranks among the AHL’s leaders with 14 wins (T10th), four shutouts (T3rd), a 2.15 GAA (9th)…Niklas Kronwall, who leads the Griffins in scoring, is tied for first among league blueliners with 30 points and nine goals, and his 21 assists rank fifth…Bryan Helmer’s four power play goals tie for fifth among defensemen…Eric Himelfarb’s 19 points (8-11—19) tie for third on the Griffins overall and tenth among AHL rookies. He is tied for the lead among first-year players with two shorthanded goals.

Missing in Action: Jiri Hudler, who remains in the Czech Republic alongside his ailing father, has missed the last 22 Griffins games. Tomas Kopecky (21 games), Kory Karlander (13) and Travis Richards (2) have also missed a string of games due to injuries.

By the Numbers: Where the Griffins rank among the AHL’s 28 teams in various statistical categories:
• Power Play: 31-for-208, 14.9% (T16th)
• Penalty Killing: 181-for-210, 86.2% (10th)
• Penalty Minutes: 20.89 avg. (24th)
• Goals For: 2.37 avg. (T18th)
• Goals Against: 2.34 avg. (5th)
• Shots For: 30.03 avg. (15th)
• Shots Against: 29.58 avg. (12th)
• Attendance: 6,220 avg. (10th)

This Week’s Scouting Report


Fri., Jan. 21 vs. Chicago Wolves (23-12-4-1) – Van Andel Arena – 7:30 p.m.

TV: Comcast Local (channel 23) at 7:30 p.m.. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. Season Series: 2-5-0-0 Overall, 0-4-0-0 Home. Eighth of 10 meetings overall, fifth and final in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series: 33-23-4-1 Overall, 16-10-4-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Atlanta Thrashers. Head Coach: John Anderson (8th season). Wolf Tracks: Chicago’s 3-1 win in the Dec. 23 meeting at Allstate Arena broke the visiting team’s six-game series winning streak…Dating to last season, the Wolves have won seven straight at Van Andel Arena and 11 of the last 13 overall against Grand Rapids…Since Nov. 20, Chicago has compiled an 18-6-3-0 record (0.722)…Kari Lehtonen is 5-2-0 versus the Griffins this season with a 2.09 GAA and a 0.936 save percentage…Three of J.P. Vigier’s five goals in the season series have been game-winners.

Sat., Jan. 22 at Houston Aeros (17-16-2-1) – Toyota Center – 8:35 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 23 at Houston Aeros – Toyota Center – 6:05 p.m.

TV: None. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 8:10 p.m. (Sat.) and 5:40 p.m. (Sun.). Season Series: 1-1-1-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Fourth of eight meetings overall, first of four in Houston. All-Time Series: 23-17-11-0 Overall, 9-9-7-0 Road. NHL Affiliations: Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars. Head Coach: Todd McLellan (4th season). Aero Dynamics: The Aeros stand sixth in the West Division but are just three points behind the third-place Griffins…These teams haven’t met since Nov. 12, when Grand Rapids took a 1-0 win at Van Andel Arena behind Joey MacDonald’s 23 saves…The last two meetings have been 1-0 decisions, including the Aeros’ Nov. 6 victory…Houston has lost two straight and four of five on home ice…Josh Harding has stopped 89-of-93 shots in three games against the Griffins.

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